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Behind Enemy Lines

A number of gold sovereigns were issued to British Military Personnel taking part in Operation Granby as part of the Coalition Forces during the First Gulf War.

Sovereigns provided by the Ministry of Defence and carried by serviceman who, it was thought, might find themselves isolated and in need of bargaining power if confronted by unfriendly forces.

Several sovereigns were used during the war, mainly by RAF crews shot down over enemy territory, SAS soldiers also carried sovereigns, as part of their kit, for use whilst on patrol. But all the un captured coins were returned to the M.O.D at the conclusion of the conflict, having served their purpose.

16,289 pieces were returned during the war, by personal on completion of their missions behind enemy territory.

Military personal carried twenty sovereigns each as part of their survival kit.

The revived twenty-shilling gold sovereign became universally respected during the 19th centaury, thought out and beyond the British Empire. Accepted as readily in the Arab Souk as in the City of London, it was hailed as `the chief coin of the world`.

During WW2 gold sovereigns were included in the survival kit of SOE agents. Mention of the coin in James Bond novels of Ian Flemming suggest that the sovereign also has its place in the world of espionage. In the Gulf War, British service personnel at risk of being stranded behind enemy lines were issued with twenty sovereigns a man to buy food, shelter and safe conduct.

The Sovereign is struck in 22 carat gold and weighs 7.98 grams. It measures 22.05 mm in diameter.

Andy McNab Bravo Two Zero P198/199

Around my waist, however,, on a one inch webbing belt, was today’s star prize, about ?1,700 in sterling, in the form of twenty gold sovereigns we had each been given as escape money. I had fixed my coins to the belt with masking tape and this created a drama. They jumped back, shouting what I assumed was the Iraqi for let him go, he’s going to explode!

A captain arrived he couldn’t have been more than 5`2” tall but must have weighed over 13 stone. He looked like a boil egg. He was aggressive, speaking good English quickly and brusquely. What’s is the equipment you have there? He asked pointing at the masking tape.

Gold I said.

The word must be international as jeans or Pepsi.

Why do you have gold?

I pulled out the first gold sovereign and the ruperts were summoned, they then began to divide the sovereigns between themselves. They tried to look so official and solemn, as they did but it was blatantly obvious what they were up to.

John Peters & John Nicols Tornado Down P107

Then the one who had punched me in the face found my money, ?1000 in gold sovereigns. He looked at it. The gold glittered back at him.

Peter `Yorkie` Crossland Victor Two P61

Blood money was standard SAS issue and consisted of gold sovereigns and what was called a blood chit- a document in English, Arabic and Farsi which promised the sum of ?5000 to anyone aiding a British soldier. Each blood chit carried a unique serial that could be checked against a person’s name. I don’t recall anyone ever using his blood chit, but the gold was different. On some occasions the sovereigns were regulated and each soldier had to sign for them: but other times they were just given a fistful of gold and told to get on with it. In fairness, some of the guys did genuinely use the money to buy vehicles to aid escape, and in battle equipment does get lost. But a lot of the gold did not turn up again at the end of the war, since the accountability was poor many of the guys still have their sovereigns. Good luck to them, I say.………….The fifteen gold sovereigns with which I was issued, I stuck to black masking tape. Next I cut the lining of my trousers and threaded the tape into my waistband.

Storm Command by General Sir Peter De La Billiere P204

Tornados skimming across the border at 800KPH and heading north over the sands at ultra low level, with their clumsy coffin-shaped JP233 slung beneath their bellies. Every crewman carried ?800 in gold, to facilitate escape in case of trouble, and also a chit written in Arabic which promised that Her Majesty’s Government would pay the sum of ?5000 to anyone who returned an airman intact to the allies.

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